Causes and Prevention of Stiff Joints

Joint stiffness is a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic disease that affects 1.3 million adults in the United States. Resulting from an abnormal response of the immune system, rheumatoid arthritis inflames the soft tissue that lines the surface of joints called as the synovium. It is a systemic disease that not only makes joints stiff and painful, but can also affect other parts of your body, such as internal organs.

How well you can move an arm, leg, or finger in different directions reflects the joint’s range of motion. If you develop joint stiffness, your range of motion is reduced. Your joint doesn’t move as well as it once did. Joint stiffness may occur with or without joint pain. Other signs and symptoms in addition to the joint stiffness will help your doctor figure out what kind of arthritis you have.

Preventing further stiff-causing injuries should be high on your list. Taking adequate rest and icing the stiff joint if necessary are the minimum you can do. Icing the area for about ten minutes several times a day reduces inflammation. Inflammation causes injuries to take longer to repair themselves. Ibuprofen or other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory products are safe to use for several days at a time. Be careful not to exceed the daily dose, and don’t drink alcohol while taking them as this could lead to internal bleeding.

For prevention of stiffness and to strengthen joints, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have been found to work by numerous studies, including one by the University of Utah School of Medicine that found that glucosamine combined with chondroitin sulfate provided statistically significant pain relief as compared with a placebo.

EFAs, or Essential fatty acids, help supply joints with the nutrients they need to stay lubricated and functioning well. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center in several articles reviewing the research in this area conclude that omega-3 fatty acid supplements reduce tenderness in joints and decrease morning stiffness.

Aside from anti-inflammatory medicines, Epsom salt wraps and soaks can help alleviate the pain of a stiff joint. Soak a small towel in hot water mixed with one-half cup Epsom salt and apply it to the affected joint. If you prefer to take a bath and soak your entire body, put two or more cups of Epsom salt in hot water. Doing gentle exercise in a cool pool will also bring temporary relief of joint stiffness.

You can also have a full body massage at our Center. Do you know that massage helps to free adhesions, break down scar tissue and decrease inflammation which may result to restore range of motion to stiff joints? Yes, stiff joints can be prevented with a massage! Visit us for a soothing relief right now.


Get to Know: Lemongrass

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), a native herb from temperate and warm regions such as India, is widely used in Asian cooking and is an ingredient in many Thai and Vietnamese foods. The use of lemongrass in cooking has become popular in the Caribbean and in the United States for its aromatic citrus flavor with a hint of ginger.

Lemongrass is a member of a species of grass that grows to as high as 1 meter with leaves of 1 to 1.5 centimeters in width that grows from a stalk of about 30 to 80 cm long with bulbous lower end. It is a perennial and tufted grass that is commercially cultivated in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and China. Lemongrass is also cultivated in United States specifically in California and Florida.

Lemongrass oil is extracted by steam distillation. Lemongrass oil has a lemony, sweet smell and is dark yellow to amber and reddish in color, with a watery viscosity. It is also known as ‘choomana poolu’ and is also referred to as ‘Indian Verbena’ or ‘Indian Melissa oil’. Lemongrass oil is a valuable ingredient in cosmetics, perfumes and as fragrances for soaps and insect repellants.

Lemongrass has a wide variety of therapeutic application. It is used as herbal medicine for gastro-intestinal problems such as stomachaches, diarrhea, gas, bowel spasms, vomiting, fever, flu, and headaches. It is taken as a tea preferably 1 cup every 8 hours. It also is used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat fevers and infectious illnesses and in Chinese medicine to treat colds and rheumatism. It is also useful with respiratory infections such as sore throats, laryngitis and fever, and helps prevent spreading of infectious diseases.

Lemongrass oil mixed with other essential oils such as coconut oil is used as a liniment for back pains, rheumatism, neuralgia, sprains and other body pains. When it is mixed with essential oils such as lavender or jasmine oil used in baths or vapor scents can revitalize the body and relieve the symptoms of jetlag, headaches, anxiety and stress related exhaustion.

Lemongrass has natural anti-microbial properties, which makes it function as an antiseptic, suitable for use on various types of skin infections, usually as a wash or compress, and is especially effective on ringworm, infected sores, acne and athlete’s foot. It can also be made as an insect repellent. It helps to keep pets clean of fleas, ticks and lice.

These are all the wonderful benefits of lemongrass. You can reap the benefits of lemongrass in our aromatherapy massage.

Get to Know: Sandalwood

Sandalwood oil gives a sweet and woody fragrance. Sandalwood is obtained from the trees of the genus Santalum. The wood is heavy and yellow in color, as well as fine-grained. It retains its fragrance for a long time. Sandalwood has been valued for its fragrance, carving, medical and religious qualities. It is used in preparing all types of perfume compositions especially Indian attars like Hina, Gulab, Kewda and Jesmine in which the natural essential oils from floral distillation are absorbed in sandalwood oil.

Sandalwood oil is obtained using steam distillation of powdered wood soaked in water for about 48 hours. Distillation is carried out at a steam pressure of 1.4-2.8 kg/cm2 for 48-75 hours. The oil content is about 10% in roots and 1.5-2% in chips which have a mixture of heartwood and sapwood.

Sandalwood has a rich, balsamic, sweet fragrance with delicate wood notes. The oil has a woody, exotic smell, subtle and lingering, and the color is pale yellow to pale gold. The fragrance of sandalwood has relaxing properties and also reduces stress, whilst promotes restful sleep. It is reputed to be an aphrodisiac as well. Sandalwood oil provides perfumes with a striking woody base note. Sandalwood smells not unlike other wood scents, except it has a bright and fresh edge with few natural analogues. When used in smaller proportions in perfume, it is an excellent fixative to enhance other fragrances. The oil from sandalwood is widely used in the cosmetic industry and is expensive.

Sandalwood is a part of traditional medical systems such as Chinese medicine and the Indian healing science known as Ayurveda. Sandalwood is commonly used for cosmetics and skin care, being useful for dry, cracked and chapped skin, rashes and acne. It is suitable for all skin types and is non-toxic. Sandalwood essential oil is also used to speed the healing process of the body. Try adding a few drops of this luxurious essential oil to your bathwater and visualize yourself as completely healthy and whole. If there is a particular part of your body that needs healing, use the proper visualization. See the energy of the sandalwood essential oil doing its work and healing your body in your mind’s eye.


Limber Up At Work

Sitting at your desk for eight-plus hours a day isn’t doing much for your fitness goals. Put those minutes you spend zoning out to better use by limbering up with this easy to do exercise at the comfort of your office desk.

You probably don’t keep dumbbells at your desk, you know, hiding among your file folders, but you can improvise. Stand facing your desk chair. Bend at the waist and grab the arms of the chair. Keeping your abs tight, arms slightly bent and your back nice and flat, slowly pick the chair up off the ground. Aim for two sets of 20 of these to sculpt a sexy back.

Perhaps while waiting for your documents to be copied or printed, you can do squats to tone your thighs and backside. Stand with your feet wider apart then your hips, toes facing forward. Push your hips back to shift your body weight on your heels instead of your toes. Lean forward 45 degrees as you lower your hips to knee level. Keep your abs tight and rib cage high. Wiggle your toes–your weight should be on your heels. Keep your knees above your ankles. Squeeze your butt to stand. Repeat these steps for eight to 15 times.

When your eyes are tired from staring at your computer screen, try doing two minutes of dips on your office chair. If it has rollers, make sure you put it against a wall. Then, sitting on the chair, put your hands under your butt and scoot off the seat. Keeping your legs straight and together and balancing on your heels, bend your elbows no more than 90 degrees and then slowly straighten. Repeat 15 times.

To tone the quads and lower abs, you can do lower body lifts. Try them as you’re reading this: Sit up straight in your chair and extend your right leg forward. Lift it off the chair and hold for 10 seconds, and then relax. Makes the muscles in your upper leg tremble, right? And the best part is that your boss will never know you’re doing it. Repeat six times on each leg.

These few exercises can keep you up at work and helps you achieve a healthy life! You may also choose to relax and rejuvenate at the comfort of our Center. Studies showed that people who have themselves a massage every week keeps up with their stressful work. Visit the nearest Thai Odyssey Center and have a relaxing massage!